“Variations on a theme” is a phrase I’ve employed to describe the games of Hidetaka Miyazaki, but it’s all a bit more complicated with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It shares ample DNA with the games that made Miyazaki famous—Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne—but it’s also much more distinct. Any particular SoulsBorne game is unique, but looks and plays basically like the others. Sekiro doesn’t. The result is a game that revels in its surprises while nonetheless feeling familiar as an old shoe, or a loyal dog that bites. Hard.
Look, I know it’s the end of March. Does that matter? Does that mean last year didn’t happen? Some of us just wanted an extra three months to keep hunting for shrines, and to keep reaching for those elusive chicken dinners.
For those of you who don’t pop by our friend Harbour Master’s site Electron Dance every day, well, you’re missing a lot of brilliant work. Brilliance like The Drake Incident, a video that basically has everything you could ever want, ever.
Sometimes I wonder if we talk about Dark Souls too much around here, then I realize how crazy that is. You can never talk about Dark Souls too much.
Dark Souls. (Well now you have to read on!)
Foreword from the author,
Sometimes writing things is difficult. Not literally, like pushing keyboard buttons, that’s usually not difficult, except when coke spills in your keyboard and really messes up the Alt key, that makes pushing the buttons difficult because Alt is really underrated and oft-used. But I meant difficult like, the space in my brain that would normally come up with things to say to the computer word processor is absent. Or filled with noodles. And my brain doesn’t have a way of eating the neighbor noodles so they just have to live together. The noodles are useless too, it’s not like they do something.
Dear Murderous Cockweasel,
Congratulations! You are an asshole.
You must be enjoying Dark Souls 2, with its exciting new fiction and hearty, vivacious PvP multiplayer. You must be! The exuberance with which you killed me as I stood idle at the Heide’s Tower bonfire proves this. As it proves your worth as a person – yes, you, carrying your ridiculous, giant-ass oh-so-obviously-compensating-for-your-pencil-junk Final Fantasy sword. Because it takes a true player (dare I say, playa) to kill someone WHO ISN’T THERE.
My biggest game-writing project to date wrapped a while back, and I thank you who chose to explore even part of it. Like all things, the story grows in the telling. I never planned to publish the Dark Souls Diaries. It started as nothing more than an email series to disinterested friends. The first several installments were just heavily edited versions of those emails.
When I elected to put them on Tap, it stopped being a goofy thing and became a matter requiring a degree of journalistic integrity. As the Diaries grew in popularity, so also grew my responsibility to be accurate. As such, the evolution of the Diaries took place alongside the evolution of my knowledge regarding the game. This epilogue is the story of that journey, plus the final moments of the game upon which the Diaries are based, and a short look at the recent Prepare to Die PC port. It may not be the last thing I’ll ever write about Dark Souls. But it is the end of this particular (and for most of you, unendurably tedious) chronicle.
The last installment of the Diaries left Steerpike the Dashing Sorcerer a little glum, O readers. One of my oldest friends had vanished, very possibly by flinging himself into a boiling magma lake. Another died because of my own terrible sword discipline; I accidentally struck him down even as he tried to step between me and a Chaos-eating hose-beast. I also appear to have misplaced his daughter, which means she’s almost certainly dead as well. All that is the injury.
As for the insult? I’m now all but certain that my most powerful and knowledgeable snake-dog thing ally, Kingseeker Frampt, has been manipulating me this whole time. I only hope that the ends to which he has influenced my actions have some honor attached to them, because it’s far too late to turn from this path.
Stephen King’s novella collection Full Dark, No Stars could – kindly – be dismissed with a casual ‘not his best work.’ But there’s one in there, briefer than the others, called Fair Extension.
Dave Streeter runs into Satan on a lonely Maine road and they get to talking. An offer is made, an honest to God deal with the Devil. I’m sure you know how those work. But Lucifer’s not really what you expect.
“…if you think I’m going to show up two decades or so down the line and to collect your soul in my moldy old pocketbook, you’d better think again,” sneers the Devil. “The souls of humans have become poor and transparent things.”
I’m finally getting back on track with my monthly International Game Developers Association column, thanks mostly to the patience of the organization and my editor, Cat Wendt. IGDA Board of Directors elections were held a while ago. Sadly my personal favorite pick – the awesome Kate Edwards of Englobe Inc – won’t be joining the IGDA board, but I have a lot of confidence in those who did win, and lots of optimism for the future of the organization.
This month I write about the uniqueness of how games relate to their consumers, and how developers are inventing some clever new approaches to authorial control that ensures players see and experience what the developers want them to, despite gaming’s inherent affordance. Enjoy!
There are basically two schools of thought on how to approach a Souls game: use the wiki, or don’t use the wiki. I use the wiki. I don’t rely on it, but I use it. My experience is that a few spoilers are nothing compared to what you’d miss without those resources. Characters. Goodies. Immense swathes of storyline. Arguably, the whole theme of the game (Eastern-tinged postamble interpretation of Hellenic ‘Olympians vs. Titans’ creation mythology refracted through Knight of Faith concept in contra-Campbellian nihil-existentialist environment). Two entire regions I would have missed without the wiki form this, our latest (and gloomiest) entry in the Diaries.
Scheduling for my monthly column at the International Game Developers Association has been more than a little spotty of late. I was once pretty Johnny-on-the-Spot with deadlines, but various things influenced that negatively; meanwhile the organization itself is going through various transitions as well. In the interest of getting myself back on a schedule I present my
not-yet-published April 2012 edition. Not being a big multiplayer myself some of the conclusions I draw may be shortsighted, but in the end I hope to spark some thought on what that form means in the larger cultural context of gaming. Enjoy!
I know this is likely to render meaningless the lives of many a reader, but you gaze upon the fifth-to-last Dark Souls Diary.
“Steerpike!” You cry. “No! Please for the love of all that is good and/or holy, say it’s not true! You have already written twenty thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight words, words we neither solicited nor enjoyed! Your own mother has asked you to stop! Say that we don’t have to read five more of these before the torment can end! We beg you Steerpike, just type this: ‘and then I did a bunch of other stuff and won the end forever.’ Wouldn’t that be a pithy closing?”
That actually would be pretty clever.
I completed Dark Souls a couple weekends ago – something I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to do. However, just because I’m done doesn’t mean that each and every one of you aren’t hanging on breathlessly for the next installment of my Diary! Far be it from me to deny you.
Today the adventure continues with all new topics: oral hygeine for snakes, the world’s worst library, dragons in the buff, and more crystal than you can shake a hippie at! Let’s go!
Time to stop stalling, people. There’s a giant snake-dog thing that wants me in Anor Londo, there’s treasure in Anor Londo, there’s plenty of reasons to go to Anor Londo. No more detours. No more diversions.
Let’s do this thing.